Are we really in the job we hate?
In earlier articles, we’ve looked at the question of giving and getting value at work. In this article we’ll explore why we might not be ‘feeling the love’ and we find ourselves in the job we hate. We’ve all been there and as soon as we see it as the ‘job we hate’, it all starts to be unbearable. But hold on… before we jump ship… let’s take a breath and explore what’s really going on. Why has this become the job we hate? There are a few simple vibes that keep us motivated at work and, if they’re missing, even the best job in the world can become the job we hate. So let’s take a look at what might be going on:
- Are we out of whack with the Company? We’ve been in the job for a while and it’s simply not what we expected. Are the company’s values, in reality, what they told us they’d be when they hired us? Or maybe they’re doing exactly what they promised but it somehow doesn’t sit well with our own values after all. Either way, we can end up feeling like our values are being violated and that’s the perfect recipe for creating the job we hate. So let’s take a long hard look at their values in practice and ours. A slight mismatch, on peripheral issues, may be bearable and we can carry on. But what if they go to the core of our being? Is there a fundamental deal-breaker between our mutual expectations? Whatever we do, we need to strike a realistic balance between acceptable and unacceptable. Often a simple discussion and adjustment can turn things around and the job we hate can become pretty good.
Are we being challenged or is it pressure? Challenges are different to pressure. Challenges engage us, lift us up and mobilise us; pressure lays heavily on us and weighs us down. Have the things we used to love become chores and burdens? Has self-determination vanished under the mass of imposed ‘duty’? Has the dream job become the job we hate? If yes, what’s changed?
- Has the job content changed to a point where we’re doing stuff we just don’t want to do? If that’s what’s going on, we can always speak to our boss or supervisor and find if there are more engaging work we could take on.
- Or maybe it’s us that have changed? Have simply become bored with the same old stuff, day after day? What used to energise us has simply become humdrum and dull. If so, what can we do to switch it up a little? Can we ask for a change of tasks with co-workers? Can we swap to a new role? Can we volunteer for additional duties? It’s amazing how flexible employers can be when we go with a positive frame of mind and suggest making our jobs more engaging.
- Read the Whole Career Resilience Series HERE
Are we being appreciated? There’s an old saying “Thank-you costs nothing” and showing a little appreciation to and from co-workers goes a long way to making us feel appreciated. So are we being appreciated? And are we appreciating the appreciation? I’m amazed at how difficult we find it to accept compliments and praise, or even a simple ‘Thanks’. So before we get into a funk and feeling unappreciated for the gift of our efforts we need to take stock.
- Firstly, do we show appreciation? Do we radiate thanks and gratitude to those around us? Appreciation is circular; we need to give it to get it.
- Secondly, do we deserve appreciation? Is our work up to scratch? If we turn in lacklustre work, we can’t expect to be appreciated for it. So, let’s raise the bar. Let’s go a little beyond the basics and begin to shine. Then let’s see the appreciation flow.
- Finally, when we’ve done a good job, there’s no harm in acknowledging it to ourselves. Nobody likes a bragger, but simple self-appreciation is infectious. If we show ourselves the love, others will join in.
- Changing up the atmosphere of appreciation can go a long way to turning the job we hate into a ‘great place to be’.
Are we being paid enough? So we’re turning out great work and showing appreciation all around but we simply don’t believe that we’re being paid enough. Pay is always a touchy subject but it has one huge advantage over other concerns. It’s objective. Yep, dollars and cents have the virtue of being concrete and absolute. I’m amazed at how few people actually sit down and do the math. Too often we have a sense of what we’re worth, rather than what the job’s worth. That’s when the emotions start to fly. If we’re out of whack with our peers in the company, or across the industry, we have a case to take to our bosses for a raise. If it’s fairly balanced, then what we are doing differently that makes our effort materially different. What makes us worth more? When we clarify the hard numbers we can take the heat out of the discussion and avoid it becoming the job we hate.So we can count it up.
- What are the numbers, cold and clinical?
- Do they match up with the others doing the same thing?
- Is that enough for our needs?
- Is it a fair reward for our time and effort?
Are we going the extra mile that deserves the extra?
- Have we lost the passion? Ernie Banks (Chicago Cubs) said “Work? I never worked a day in my life. I always loved what I was doing, had a passion for it.” So are we working our passion or simply working our job? Do we get out of bed with an eagerness to get to work, or have we begun to drag ourselves there? Has our passion become the job we hate?Can we step back and remember what attracted us to the job in the first place? Remember when we young, fresh-faced and full of enthusiasm? What’s changed? The job or us? What ‘turns us on’ these days?When we’re clear about those questions and then look around, we can find our passion in the strangest places. Yes, even at work! So let’s find the passion, experience the joy of where we are and step away from the drudgery of the job we hate.
- Hit the Ceiling? Our sense of advancing is a great motivator Take that away and we begin to feel trapped, pointless and even the best job today will become the job we hate. As soon as we get the sense of our careers being arrested, we being to view today’s job in a different light. It becomes the job we hate. Well actually, it’s not today’s job that’s become hateful, it’s the future prospects. Well, here’s the thing… the future hasn’t happened yet. We have time to change our prospects… to change our future. In an earlier article, I spoke about Linear and Non-Linear Careers. If the way ahead is blocked or limited, maybe it’s time to explore a fork on the road. We can work around the obstacles and accept new challenges. Not only does this current job stop being the job we hate but the new opportunities may revive our passions and our feelings of appreciation. Who knows, we may even get a pay rise out of it.
- The grass is NEVER greener. How often do we look outside of our situation and convince ourselves that other people are doing better than us? Yet how often does their reality match our perceptions? Answer? Never! That’s right… NEVER! The reason is that they’re not us. Even if they are blissfully happy where they are, there is no guarantee that we would be equally happy in their shoes. If fact, it’s most likely that we wouldn’t be because their shoes simply won’t fit us. Wherever we go, we take ourselves (and our baggage) with us. Every situation is experienced through the lens of our own heritage. So if we’re looking for a change to someplace else, we’d better be clear about why we want it. Is this a change that is genuinely good for us, or is it simply that over there is not this, the job we hate?
We’ve looked at a whole range of reasons why we might sense that we’re in the job we hate. But are we? Sure, there may be some physical and practical aspects to our jobs that we don’t like but most of the reasons about being in the job we hate are about our attitude to it. Most often, the job is perfectly fine but it’s our feelings towards it that have changed. So, before we start looking around for a new job, it’s probably wise to go inwards first. What are our motivations, our values and our needs and wants? Are we clear about those and are we certain that we can’t make today’s life fit us better. Are we really in the job we hate?
If you need some help in reviewing your career options, here are three simple steps you can take to start the process